Please come visit the Santa Cruz WordPress MeetUp to learn about the WordPress content management system, online business, and our Santa Cruz tech community. More info can be found at http://www.meetup.com/santa-cruz-wordpress/
Update 10/11/2012 – Full transcription of the Santa Cruz WordPress Meetup video
Pamela: Hi, I’m Pamela Papas. I am partners with Paul Caloca, who is doing your video recording tonight. We’re partners in Spaghetti Against the Wall Consulting. We create marketing videos for your micro business and small business, so you can generate leads, increase sales and earn money. Just because you have a video on your Web site doesn’t mean that visitors will take the action you want them to, so we help you do that. As Chris Garrett of the Third Tribe said “Good Web marketing should be like a woman’s skirt, short enough to get your attention and long enough to cover the essentials.”
Melody: This is Karen Kefauver, she is going to do top 10 Facebook tips.
Karen: That’s right, and more, because I can’t contain myself. I believe we’re going go for about half an hour with my presentation and then hopefully there’ll be some time for questions and answers. We went around the room and 20 of you named your burning WordPress issues, but I do not know anything about your Facebook issues. I am hoping to get a little sense right now of how many of you are on Facebook with a personal Facebook page.
Female: As opposed to business?
Karen: Correct. You have a personal Facebook page. How many of you are using Facebook for your business? That’s a little bit less. The focus today is on your Facebook page for business. To start off, I’m going to talk about the big picture of social media, a few hot trends. Then we’ll dive into the 10 Facebook tips, and then time saving tools and resources, all in 30 minutes. I’m going to talk really fast, like this, so I hope you pay attention.
Social media is not going away. Every year I teach a class in January, and I say “What are the trends in social media?” Someone always says, “I thought it would go away, and I’d wake up on January 1st, Facebook would have collapsed and Twitter would be dead, this whole pain in the butt would be gone.” No, it’s here to stay. The biggest players that you should know about are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google +, YouTube and Pinterest. I’m not by any means suggesting that you go home tonight and create a social network on each one of those.
As a matter fact, out of this list, the newest are Google +, which is Google’s own social network, and Pinterest, which means pinboard and interest combined into Pinterest. Pinterest primarily has to do with photos. If you’re in a photo heavy industry, Pinterest may be for you. Anyone in here currently using Pinterest? Raise your hands higher, be proud.
Chris: As a marketing tool or just for fun?
Chris: I’m using just for fun, pretty much.
Karen: Either one. That gives me an idea, some of you actually have Pinterest accounts. How about Google +? Wow, this is a savvy group, I asked the same question of 20 people yesterday, in an undisclosed location, and none of them had it. That’s interesting that you WordPress folks are savvy.
Why bother to do social networking for business? That’s what the number one thing I hear for people who are busy entrepreneurs. Many of us are running our own business, launching our business, trying to keep up our WordPress sites. How do you make time to do Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, LinkedIn, or even one or two of them? The reason why you should bother is because this is a really viable way to get the word out about your business. As it says, social networking, the most popular online activity worldwide, if your business is not part of that conversation, you’re a missing a huge opportunity.
By the way, I’m not endorsed by Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter. I am a consultant, I’ve been here for 20 years, most of that time, I’ve been a freelance writer. If you look in the Sentinel sports section on Friday, I often write about cycling. The reason I’m talking about social media is, social media has helped me in my career as a writer. I’ve had such good results with it that I want to tell how to do it.
Just when I say good results, as a result of my being on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and blogging, I have been contacted by L.A. Times, the Washington Post, both of them contacted for interviews. I made contact with different editors at the L.A. Times, and then even got a great writing assignment from MSNBC.com. Those are just a few of the exciting connections that I’ve made through social media and I say this because you can too.
I’m going to quickly go over some numbers. I’m more a words gal but numbers are important too. Tonight’s focus is Facebook, and one of the reasons why is because it’s the king of social media, by numbers, by reach, et cetera. Many of us reading the newspaper, the old fashioned thing and online, know that Facebook’s been in the news a lot because of their initial public offering. Maybe that didn’t go as planned, regardless, Facebook is still growing around the world and it’s still a really relevant place to promote your business. 900 million active users, phenomenal amount, 900 million.
If you think of every one of those users, it says on average is connected to 80 pages, groups and events. Any of those pages, group and events could be from your business. That’s where they connect, to your business. Mobile devices are hot, hot, hot, especially with Facebook. How many of you post Facebook updates on your mobile device? That’s roughly the same number who raised their hands that use Facebook.
Twitter, I can’t talk just about Facebook tonight because Facebook is part of a much bigger environment. Twitter has fewer users but they’re very active. How many of you have Twitter accounts? That’s about the same number as Facebook. Twitter’s not going away. It has integrated Apple’s operating system, it’s got huge amounts of money, it’s happening. Again, I’m not endorsing it, I’m just saying Twitter is another option that you can consider for your social media needs.
Yesterday on the Today show, Twitter announced that they were rolling out a number changes. I just want to make sure that you have the latest, greatest, hottest news, so you can tweet it. Basically the news is that if you Twitter profile, it’s now photo-intensive. This is the old Twitter look, and I’m just pointing out that this is a long horizontal photo, see that. The TODAY show has this snazzy new big rectangular photo. The reason why that’s relevant, here’s the old again, here’s the new, is this is really good for your business. This is essentially a big billboard, kind of similar to Facebook, people have been saying.
The point is if you want to be on Twitter, make sure that you have a good photo. That’s really the essence of that breaking news. Our friend, Ryan Seacrest, also has the new look on Twitter. Just think about that, if it’s for business, what image do you want to use? There’s the breaking news on Twitter. Has anyone actually uploaded a new image?
Male: It’s pretty neat how they did that, framed it, because it’s not really easy to do that.
Karen: Congratulations, you’re on the cutting edge. LinkedIn, I loved LinkedIn. When I teach social media classes, which I do a lot, I say “If you do not have a LinkedIn profile, that’s your number one priority.” I won’t say “Who in here doesn’t have LinkedIn profile?” I will simply urge you all to have a LinkedIn profile for yourself personally. Something a lot of people don’t know, but in addition to the LinkedIn personal profile you could also have a company page. LinkedIn is a company, is actually working hard to make it more worthwhile to have a company page for your business on LinkedIn. On LinkedIn when you have company page, you can have people follow your page, you can have status updates et cetera, so consider that.
Google +, just briefly, it’s Google’s social media network. In some ways it’s similar to Facebook. One of the ways that Google + distinguishes itself it, it has a feature that is very video-friendly. They call their video section, Hangouts. If you ever wanted to have a business video conference with, I think, up to 9 people, create Google + account and use Hangouts. Is anyone in here using that feature? Untapped resources. A lot of people have said that they’ve liked it even better than Skype. If you want to create that, you may consider that. Here’s just an example of what a Google + business page looks like, this is the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Over here again, it’s similar to Facebook. You’ve got your name, you choose your photo. Over here, home, profile, explore, events. Google + has a nice events section.
YouTube, how many of you are using YouTube? Just a handful.
Chris: Does that mean they don’t go to YouTube?
Karen: YouTube has a possibility, you can set up your own free channel on YouTube. I guess that’s what I meant. Have you set up a business presence… you can, it’s…
Female: It’s free to have an account, isn’t it?
Karen: Pinterest, who raised… did you raise your hand for Pinterest?
Karen: Do you like it?
Karen: Do you use it for business? You want to say how you’re using it for business, I’m just curious.
Male: I teach music, I teach the saxophone. Sometimes I’ll put pictures that are somewhat popular.
Karen: He teaches saxophone and can upload saxophone photos. Anyone else using Pinterest? How do you use it?
Female: For the winery, we have about eight or nine boards. I’ve got one that each of the wines with the dollar signs, so I’ve got the prices out there. I’ve got wine cartoons, favorite holidays where we’ve staged our wine bottles with different props, different events that we like.
Karen: Pinterest, saxophone and winery folks, no, it’s all about photos. Again, look at your arsenal of photos. I created a Pinterest account, I confess I don’t use it much, but since I teach social media, I upload my photos, that’s me cycling in Montana. I said bicycling events, mountain bike, social media and travel. Since I wear two hats, I’m both the social media teacher and I’m a journalist, I decided to focus this more on my outdoor travel and writing, just for the heck of it. This is Krista Martin, who writes for the Sentinel, use to be a good time. She has a lot of success on Pinterest. This says design, beauty, fashion, penny rose. She uses it to promote her blog, just food for thought.
Quickly, three social media trends. So you have an idea, there are all these options that you can use for social media. Three things that are hot are: mobile device… I was reluctant, I was a slow adopter of the smartphone. I loved my dumb phone, but I realized that because of the nature of what I’m doing, I really had to be up to date on how these apps, Facebook, Twitter et cetera act on the phone. Most of you may know there are differences between using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc. on your computer versus this.
I think I admit, I don’t have an iPad yet. How many of you use an iPad? Are the apps also different on the iPad as well? That’s something to keep in mind. More and more people use these for Facebook, for Web site et cetera. One of the things that I mentioned later is that you might to want to consider having a special Web site, having your Web site adapted for a mobile device, if you haven’t already.
QR codes and video. This is what a mobile phones site might look like. I hired Eric Bloom of Mobile MarCom. I got cut off, it’s a little hard to see but this says, Roaring Camp, Mpress Digital. This is me, I blew up mine. A difference with the mobile Web site is that’s real succinct about Karen, social media, writing, contact. The cost is less to have this than a traditional Web site, because it’s compacted information. Anybody here, I love seeing who has what, has a mobile phone Web site?
Male: I have a thing that’s responsive, like what was brought up earlier.
Karen: It’s food for thought. I thought it was worthwhile. I think it’s even if you have a… my services are services, I don’t have a retail shop. I think it’s even better if you have a physical location and office, and you want people… the number one thing people use phones for is driving and weather, when I say driving, I mean directions.
QR codes, most are now familiar with these. When I introduced these a year ago, people went “What, what is that?” QR codes are something that you might want to consider using. I don’t know if they’ll stick around or not. I think they’re kind of a fun marketing tool. the thing for you to know is that these are two-dimensional barcodes. The only way you can read them is if you have a smartphone. The smartphones need to have an application, one minute, you scan the barcode, and you’ll get the data that you need.
Male: Here’s a survey I really want to take, who has used a QR code once, at least once. It’s probably higher than I thought it would be.
Female: We actually had one on our business cards too, in case people wanted to go to our Web site.
Karen: It’s a good point. Hopefully all of you got one of my business cards, and I put my QR code on my card because it’s really handy. When you scan code the QR code my business cards, it goes immediately into your phone. You don’t have to hand enter the data. It just says, do you want to download this Vcard, with Karen’s name, Web site. That’s nice, especially when you go to a conference and there’s a million different cards.
Here’s an example of a wine bottle that a QR code on it, so you can instantly get the handy information. I’ll just be brief with this one. If you want to fool around with QR codes and make your own, QRstuff.com. Just so you don’t feel like if you’ve got to scribble everything I will make this presentation available on my Facebook business page, among other places.
The other trend is video. As all of you SEO experts know, that when you post a video and you embed on your Web site or even post a video link on Facebook, that helps boost being found in the search. I don’t know why, it’s some tricky secret algorithm that makes that happen. Video are a really, really forceful tool. Just in general video expert here tonight and it’s super important.
Your head may be spitting. I have a Web site, I need a mobile Web site, maybe I should a newsletter and a blog, and Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google, Pinterest, YouTube… I call this a media empire because this would take ten lifetimes for you to do, and many of us are small business. I suggest you choose, I think the Web site’s imperative and the mobile Web site’s pretty important. After that, between blogging, newsletter, social media, you need to choose what you like to do. If you a have a staff that you can delegate to that would be lovely, I wish I did. You can just pick and choose.
A lot of people make mistakes and say “I have a Twitter account.” I got a look their Twitter account, they haven’t posted for two months, which in the world of Twitter could be like 10 space age years… light years, that’s the word, light years.
We’re getting to the meat of the matter. Facebook tip number 1 out of 10. I won’t talk too fast, but I’m excited. Add social media buttons to your Web site homepage. You would think that’s obvious. It’s really funny that even though there are so many people with Facebook business pages, they say “Some designer told me not to put it on my Facebook homepage. It doesn’t look good.”
There are quite a few designers in this room and I will take issue with any one of you. I think that your social media presence should be front and center. I think there are studies that show that when people land on a Web page, the percentage of people who actually scroll down the page, who bother to take that action, is some ridiculously low amount. You want to be just like a newspaper, it’s called above the fold. You want to capture your audience with the most important information. Do you have a comment on that as a designer?
Female: No, I agree. Sometimes I’ll do them monochromatically, so they don’t pop out so much. Yeah, upper right hand corner is…
Karen: Good, you’re on my page. The boardwalk, our Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, on their homepage, which is what we’re looking at, they do in fact have it a little low down but for strangely enough, their homepage fits on an entire screen. Down here it says “Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk on Facebook.” You can click on that link it will take you right on Facebook. They also, “Like.” Of course, they don’t mind bragging that they 223,000 people who have liked them.
Female: The counter probably changes every time a new person likes them.
Karen: That’s just one example. Again, I preferred up here but the Boardwalk… here’s how Book Shop Santa Cruz does it on their Web site. They don’t even have the words, it’s so common now. They have the “f” for Facebook, the “t” for Twitter. This is indeed a screen shot of their homepage, this is very prominent. Two examples… I’m sorry, this is the Web site, here is the Facebook. I just clicked to see what their Facebook page looked like, as an example. They’ve done a nice job. Again, it’s a big white image on Facebook. There are rules about this picture on Facebook that you can’t say “Like me on Facebook.” It’s funny, they want to try to keep, I don’t know, I guess, clean.
Female: This is the new Timeline?
Karen: Correct, correct… some of you may recall that in the old Facebook format, which I didn’t even bother to take a screen shot, there were several, I’m trying to make little squares, there were multiple little blocks of pictures across the top, either five or six, I think. This is again, the importance of the photo, on Twitter and Facebook, cannot be over estimated.
Facebook number 2, how many of you have a blog? That’s at least 10 of you. Facebook a while back, Facebook used to automatically let you post your blog post, but they haven’t done that anymore. The point is, if you want, every time you write a blog post, if you want it to go onto your Facebook page, you add an application, which is free, called NetworkedBlogs. NetworkedBlogs is a free application, you install in into your Facebook page, it connects with your blog. It’s so nice that every time you write a blog post, boom, it goes onto your Facebook business page?
Barbara: Writing a blog, there are so many opportunities out there to get a blog, I’d like to… I think years ago I opened up something blogpost.com and there was blog.com, and there was blog… I know it’s about Facebook, but how do I even start a blog?
Karen: Good news is we’re at a WordPress group. WordPress is one of the greatest places I think to have a blog. How many of you in here have WordPress blogs? Look at that show of hands. Barbara, I would recommend, let’s follow up with that question, may be you’ll have a little break. I’m on Facebook tip 2 and I just got to keep going. I think WordPress is a good place for a blog. Just saying!
Get personal on Facebook, but not too personal. It’s a fine line, and the reason is, social media is called social because you’re not just a billboard putting up all kinds of… “There’s a sale today, promotion”… I want to know if I’m going to follow you on Facebook and your business, I want a little behind-the-scenes information. If I’m going to hire you as a Web designer, as opposed to, there are a lot of Web designers in Santa Cruz, why might I going to hire you?
You know what, if you happened to say that you went mountain biking at Wilder Ranch, and I’m a cyclist and you just mentioned that, vernaculous but it’s personal, I’m going to feel a connection with you that I may not feel with a different person. Let your hobbies, especially if they’re sports, you can pretty much steer clear of religion, sex and politics, on that personal note… “If Karen Kefauver said to get personal…” No… Be Judicious!
Make your Web site shareable, I’m circling back to that same issue of your Web site, your WordPress site and Facebook should really be married in a way, and Facebook by business. When I say Facebook page, I mean your Facebook business page. I have to confess upfront, I only use WordPress to blog. The Sentinel, which I write for as a freelancer, has a blog and it’s on WordPress, and I post on there. I don’t have my own WordPress blog. Therefore, I think that I’m not positive WordPress very seamlessly integrates with Facebook and other social media. Is that correct?
Female: Sure, there are plugins too that would work with it as well.
Karen: That means no excuse not to make your Web site shareable. Again, I want to point out this little “Like” button, you can have “Like” button, not just on your homepage, you can spread that through other places in your Web site. As an example here is the Beach Boardwalk Web site, basically they have all the rides and their games. So, LASER TAG has its very own ability to like. If I’m a huge LASER TAG fan, and I just like this page, that will then go to my personal Facebook page, and say that I have liked LASER TAG. I’m inviting you, on your Web sites to have that little “Like” icon throughout your Web site, not just on the homepage.
Again, I think the Boardwalk job, I happen to know they have dedicated staff for this. This page here is a screenshot of the Boardwalk’s About or Contact page, just food for thought, they say here you are on Facebook, but they have YouTube, Flicker, Yelp, Google +. It’s a nice way to just see how you can connect with the Boardwalk.
I cannot say how important photos are. As a starter on LinkedIn, I have had incidences where I have connected with people on LinkedIn, I’ve seen their headshots, I have met them in person and gone…. really, get a good head shot. Rebecca Stark, actually works right here in this Cruiser building, and she has done promotions where she says, I think it’s like Head Shots Tuesday. You just go into her studio, she will give you a nice headshot. It’s really important, I urge you all tonight to go home and see how you’re portraying yourself on LinkedIn and other places.
You see the photos with somebody else’s hand of sticking in there. For business, no, no. The other thing is photos on Facebook and your Web site also help with search engine optimization. That’s a good thing, that means you can be found more easily if you post photos, or as it says here, “Photos take up more space that the news feed.”
Use Analytics, I have to confess Analytics are not my favorite tool. Show of hands again or who has a Facebook business page? A lot of you. Out of those hands, how many of you have actually studied Facebook Insights? Alright, can you comment on your…
Male: I’ve only looked at a little bit. Any time I post, I get more hits, is what it boils down to. If I post an image, if I post whatever… you can just see all my numbers shoot up every time.
Karen: Thank you. Facebook Insights is a free part of having a Facebook Business page. With one click, you click on Facebook Insights on your page and you can get all of kinds of data. You can get specific information, they have nifty charts. It says “The number of visitors to your page soared on this day.” Then you go and you say, “What the heck did I post on August 16th that there is this huge spike in my attendance?” Go do it again, but not the same post. See if was a photo, see if it was a question, and see what generated that.
Use Facebook’s features. Facebook is constantly re-inventing and updating itself, which is why I have a job as a social media consultant. Because as soon as you think you’re up to date, it changes really fast, and it even frustrates me. One of the things that it has is applications. I don’t have the time to get into explaining how to add the applications. You connect on your Facebook business page with, there is application for YouTube, there is an application for Twitter. As I mentioned, NetworkedBlogs has an application. Do any of you Facebook business page users have a favorite application that you want to mention? Yes?
Female: I don’t remember what it’s called but there are several that allow you to add additional tabs. Like a Welcome page or a landing page.
Karen: Nice, maybe you can post that on the Meet Up group?
Female: Something like Inline Status…
Male: Shortstack is a pretty neat one. It helps you build the custom page that can have different stuff that shows up if they’ve liked the page or if they haven’t liked the page, and it’s all built in.
Karen: Great, thanks. I was just saying I got so excited, to post that perhaps on the Meet Up if you get a chance.
Female: Yeah, I just had a look at them, because I just planned on the other day.
Karen: The other thing you should know is pinning posts, and highlighting. These are two tools, if I can get online, if I have time I can show you. Basically, you have the ability, if you have a really important message that you’re posting… I was going to a “Liquidation Sale,” but that’s not a real positive one. You’ve been invited to speak at national speaker’s convention, and that’s really big news.
What you would do with that, is you would pin that post, and again, this is a feature that is both on your personal page of Facebook and your business page. You could experiment with it on your personal page, and then use it. It means that that post will stay at the top, like a headline, even when you post other things, it is glued to the top of your listings. Does that make sense?
Female: A sticky post.
Karen: Yeah, a sticky post. I think it is up to five days or even a week.
Female: There’s an app that you have to download?
Karen: It’s not an app, it’s a little button that you click, that’s what I’d like to show you where it is. Similarly, highlighting, Facebook now has a two-column format, if you want a highlight a post, it goes all the way across in a big banner format. I just chose Burning Man out of the blue. The tip, I don’t have it on the slide, is to try Facebook Events. On your business page, you can create a list of events, it’s the same on your personal page. If you got your personal page, you want to experiment creating an event, do it there.
A tip about the event, so here’s I did a talk while ago. People often overlook the fact that you can upload a photo to your event. The default is it just says “31” on a gray blanked out calendar. Don’t forget, when you create a Facebook event, to upload a photo.
Female: Karen, if you post an event on business page that you can’t do invitations, is that correct? Just for personal…
Karen: No, I’ve…
Male: You can invite the subscribers of your page.
Female: You can, you can’t?
Karen: Yes, you can invite people. Number 9, Facebook tip… this is actually a Goggle + slide, I just threw in into the Facebook lists, that you can also create a good event on Google +. This is how Google + events look like. Again, it was really hard, this is not a great photo, but I could not find something that fit this size. But Google + events, photos are so important. The first thing I do with my private clients, yes you can work with me one-on-one, that’s what I do. I passed out my cards, so feel free to follow up.
One of the first things I do with my clients when we talk about Facebook, is I say “Often you are associated with your business. Let’s look at your personal Facebook page, and make sure all of your privacy settings are right.” I cannot tell you how many people have thought that they correctly made it private, “Oh my goodness, I didn’t know those photos of my kids, my canoe trip, and my dad are actually public photos,” that’s not entirely your fault. Facebook does not have real, simple, easy privacy settings. I always urge you, or you can hire me to help you with that.
The other thing I suggest is, depending on how closely you personally associate with your business, a lot of us are individual business owners, I say, on your personal Facebook page, there’s an “About” section, and under that section make sure you’ve listed your business Web site, so that if someone stumbles onto your personal page, you can redirect them to the business page. I also suggest that you have your LinkedIn, your Twitter, and any other business affiliations in your personal page to redirect people.
Lastly, I say link to your Facebook page, on your personal Facebook page, there is some place at the top line that says something like “Works at,” and then you can put something. If you have a Facebook business page, you can link to that business page from your personal page. Those are things I suggest on your personal page that you look at.
Lastly, if you go to the trouble to do social media, you need to let people know about it. Often my clients are like, “Why can’t people find your Facebook page?” You need to put it on your Web site, put it on your business cards. If you have a retail shop, at your window, at your cash register. Print ads, you pay a pretty penny for print ads, put the little Facebook icon, let people know. Newsletter, blogs, other social media networks. It may seem redundant, but on my Facebook, I also say you can link to me at Twitter, LinkedIn, et cetera. All across all my social networks, I let people know what other social networks I’m on.
Help resources, while yes, I’d love for you to hire me, guess what, you can find a lot of answers to your questions on these sites. This is just to show you, not only that, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google, YouTube, Pinterest, they really want business. Company pages here, Facebook business, they will really tell you how to thrive with your business on these sites. Don’t tell anyone I said that. If you want to geek out with social media, like I do and other people do.
These are my favorite, again you don’t have to scribble them all down, and these are my regular daily readings. If you only want to read one of them, I think I love Mashable the most, mashable.com. What all these do is fill up my e-mail inbox with the latest and greatest free daily updates. New York Times Tech Blog is pretty good.
Female: That’s free, they’ve started charging.
Karen: Yes, that’s true. The Tech Blog, they offer you little briefs. Yeah, you can get those for free. You’re right, they put a wall.
Female: It’s actually working.
Karen: Resources – After the Talk, surprise, surprise, I invite you to “Like” my business page. All of that whole list of resources that I read daily, I try to cull down the best stuff, and just post it on my page. I teach a number of classes, I’ll just say, feel free if you like this… we talked for about 35 minutes, two and a half hours is the length of time I have in Aptos, my next class is November 27th. It’s through the Small Business Development Center. I’ll just leave these here. Do we have time for a few questions, or no?
Female: What do you think, Chris?
Chris: Yeah, about a few.
Female: Yeah, at least two or three.
Karen: Who has a question? Yes.
Male: Where do you get the time, when you’re really busy in your business, to get your regular work done to all the stuff? That’s been my struggle.
Karen: That’s a common question. First of all, I suggest that you just choose a few social networks that you like, maybe even just one. The way I do it, is I call it chunking my time, I do it chunks. For me, because it’s part of my profession, at the bare minimum I do it at breakfast, lunch and dinner. That means I look at my Facebook, Twitter… because if I try to do it all, all day, I would go crazy and I would get nothing done. For you, you may say, “I’m just going to look at it once a day at breakfast, maybe twice a day.”
I try to group it, and one of the ways I do that is, just a quick tip, I use Gmail, so funnel all of my Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, all of my social media into folders and that actually bypass my e-mail inbox. You can do that with a filter. That’s geeky Gmail stuff, but that way it’s not filling up my Gmail inbox all day.
Male: What percentage of your fans actually sees your posts usually?
Karen: What percentage of my friends usually sees…
Male: Fans, on like your business page.
Karen: What percentage of my fans sees the post, funny you should ask. There’s a newer feature on Facebook where it actually gives a little tiny number and it says, “This post was seen by,” and it gives a number. I don’t know the percentage but I just track, I look to see at different times of days how many people like it at that hour, how many like it at little… I don’t know the percentage, I just try to see some… some get a lot more than others, I know that’s a little vague. I need to study my analytics. Yes?
Female: You haven’t mentioned the newer feature where they’re trying to get some revenue. They’re cutting down on the number of your posts that go to the news feed of your users. I know that we used to get, of our 90,000 people, we used to get everybody seeing them, and now they’ll go about 25 percent. They’re trying to get us to buy ads. Not ads, but if you pay then they will put the entries on everybody’s news feed. That’s something to be aware of. In case you’re wondering why your posts haven’t been responded to, sometimes they don’t show up in the news feed.
Karen: That’s an excellent point. I think yes, Facebook wants your money, your advertising dollars. As a tangent to that, I have tried a number of Facebook ads, but there is something called “Promote this post.” You can pay to promote a single post.
Female: It will go to everybody on…
Karen: I have done that, for instance for a class that I’m teaching, I really want to get the word out. The thing I do like about Facebook advertising is, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to be effective.
Male: If you already have a WordPress site, I understand the reason you might want to integrate with buttons and all that to Facebook, but is there another benefit to having a Facebook Web site for your business, that your ordinary Web site doesn’t? For instance, will more people stumble across if we use Facebook? What is the benefit of having Facebook Web site compared to a WordPress?
Karen: They’re like apples and oranges. Your question is, here you already have a WordPress site, and then the other option that you’re asking are about a Facebook business page. I consider them apples and oranges, they’re complementary, they serve different functions. The reason you’d want to have a Facebook business page is because 900 million people in the world are connected to Facebook. If you have your business represented on Facebook, it’s a form of almost being in a massive worldwide white pages or Yellow Pages. You are throwing your hat in the ring with this huge global audience.
It’s also another way for people, I think in general Facebook is more participatory and conversational than your blog. People can comment on a blog post but it’s not quite the same, even an active blog doesn’t facilitate as much back and forth. That’s why I think. I think I need to wrap it up and I want to say thank you very much.
Melody: Thank you Karen, good job, very good job. Thank you so much.
Chris: My name is Chris Burbridge. I am the Chief WordPress Architect for WordPress Santa Cruz. I have been an independent WordPress developer for seven years, since WordPress was a baby. I have teamed up recently with Chris Miller of ScratchSpace, IT consulting with a nine percent company here in Santa Cruz. The reason I did that is because I could never bring the quality and the reliability into project management all by myself to enough people. Honestly, I couldn’t do it all by myself. I would not be able to do it. We’re partnering together, and we are WordPress Santa Cruz. We are launching that specific brand, we have a lot of experience, years of experience together, and we’re launching that brand today. I put that brand on there. Thank you.
What I’m going to talk about is WordPress theme selection strategy. How to pick the right WordPress theme for your project. One of you who was introducing, had exactly picked the right night. Was that you?
Female: That was me, and I think there might be another suspect in the room as well.
Chris: Probably some other ones to. I made this presentation because I found there is all these little pit falls and falling off the ledge without, knowing you’re falling off the ledge. That happened for people, and I wanted to scare them in the right places, and inspire them in the right places.
Over the past three years, the profusion and ability in the WordPress theme market, and the usabilities, have gotten better and better. I looked at, Smashing Magazine is a really nice resource for themes. I looked at this year’s favorite WordPress themes. You go back one year, you go back one year and the styles are radically different. As a designer, you’d be so interested. This year’s very sharp, very smart. You go back a year, it’s like “Mm-hmm.” You go back three years it starts to be more blogging, boxy.
It’s really improving very, very rapidly. It’s become, in that time, a very viable market with premium themes. A lot I’m going to talk about is about premium themes, which means you pay anywhere from $30-$100 for your theme. You get a higher level of quality, usually, and higher level of care and coding, and hopefully some support.
If you think about 10 years ago, what you’d have to pay for, in terms of quality, could be a $10,000 Web site that you’re getting in terms of the quality and the level of the code for a $100. When you look at it that way it’s an incredible deal. There are themes for every use, hotels, restaurants, realtors, hair salons, churches, you name it. There are specific themes that are supposedly designed for specific industries, although I’m going to get into in a bit. Some of that’s valid and some of it is not really valid. There are enormous varieties.
Lost of options, you’ve got slideshows, controls, gizmos… how many people have purchased a premium theme, WordPress theme? Okay. How many people have been happy with the theme they purchased? That’s good, that’s about the same number. That’s good, that’s excellent. How many people have at least looked around at all the different themes that are out there? A little more.
Female: How about some?
Chris: No, no, no. I don’t know it all, it’s vast.
Female: Investigated a selection.
Chris: Customers happily purchase themes to meet their needs, download, and install. What’s the problem? What am I talking about? Many are disappointed once they buy themes. That’s what I’ve I have seen. I worked with lots of small business clients, all the time. I tried to help them with whatever level they can afford, and help them with as much DIY, why do it yourself as I can. I find often they’re disappointed, they feel like they’ve wasted $80, in different way. It just depends.
So often they’re confused by options, sometime poor code, and lots of setup they did not expect. When you go to these theme sites, often what you’re going to find, Theme Forest is the worst like this, but a lot of them are like this. When you go and they go “I want a theme that’s going to make Web site look wonderful, make my business look wonderful, be wonderful.” You go and there is this amazing gigantic slideshow.
It’s got all these hundreds, thousands of dollars, maybe a stock photography, hundreds, at least. A stock photography that’s professionally selected, someone spent hours selecting all that. It looks amazing, it’s already been all configured and set. When you get it home and you install it, that site did not come with that stock photography. That site did not come with the designer to ascertain the balance of colors, and type, images, or how to use images. It didn’t come with any of that, and you’re left…
Male: Not only that, but a lot of people have prepared just the content alone. A lot of them have long “if some,” that takes a number of hours. Then you could actually have a professional writer come in.
Chris: Not to get too much into but that’s what we’re doing. WordPress Santa Cruz is working with selling people coaching packages about helping them get the writing done and the photography or whatever. You walk in and they just, they don’t know what they don’t know, they are stuck. It’s better with designers, a little bit. Designers who make the themes have certain training in aesthetics, composition and visual appeal, often lack other training in marketing, business and usability. Not always, but sometimes. Sometimes they are tempted to hype theme features to get sales at the expense of usability or good support.
Example, this is an example of a theme that they, I won’t even say what the name of the company was, but it was a really cool-looking theme. This is the demo site, it looked amazing. It made me think, this is really cool, it has all these different semi-opaque layers, different things going on, this is a slideshow that would rotate, and stuff like that. When I downloaded this and they provided to me as a demo, because I was preparing this talk… when I downloaded it and installed it and pressed the homepage, this is what I saw.
This hype is one of the main points I want to make is that when you buy these themes, you’re not actually buying the knowledge of how to set them up, and how to make them look great. Really watch out for the slide, the slideshow image thing. Notice how much the images in the marketing of the themes make you feel like you want that because it’s going to make you look good, but they’re not actually selling you the images that are going to make you look good. Actually, someone could do a really great information product about how to, or training about how to do it your yourself, how to pick the images that are going to work with that theme, and how to put the things together.
In the backend, the control panel, there are lots of options, panel setups. There were eight tabs, each tab had multiple options and presets. It was not apparent to me how to use it. I, being a computer guy most of my life, I know what it’s like for a lot of small businesses that get this stuff and go, “I just want it to work.” They get this and they get completely overwhelmed and frustrated. I understand about that.
Lots of settings, a lot of things that would make perfect sense to me, that wouldn’t make sense to someone that think they’re just getting a push button thing. So the degree of push button-ness really is from some to none. If you expect total push button-ness, that’s probably not where you’re going to get…
What I want to do is provide you with tools, so you will know what to look for, what to avoid and what to expect. I broke it up into four parts. Really simple, build your road map about your plan for, just like everything else, in building a Web site or building anything. Plan out where you want to with it, what your goals are. Take a piece of paper and write it down. Who is your ideal customer? This is like Marketing 101 in 15 minutes, which is much better than in no minutes, which is what people usually have a lot of times. Who is your ideal customer? What burning problem do you want to solve for them? How do you express your solution in words that speak to them? I’m going to give a link that you can have this as a PDF, by the way, or a link to this.
What is the character you want the site to convey? It could be serious and reliable, fun and easy to deal with, innovative. You decide, you can even market down, you can say “I want it to be like a trusted friend. I want it to be like a bank, might be solid and reliable.” If you had a bank Web site or even maybe Santa Cruz County Bank could be your trusted friend. I don’t know, but you want to decide what the feel is that you want to convey that fits with that mood.
What do you want the customer to do? Make sure that’s very clear in your mind. What’s the desired top action you want them to do? If you’re trying to market a consulting business, you want them to call you for maybe a free 15-30 minute consult. If you’re selling a product directly, you maybe want them to just buy the product. You just know what the call to action is, you want to make a call to action. You’re going to want to make a call to action that’s based on that.
I say with a lot of these things, with small business, pick one thing. Pick one means of social media to start out, or pick one call to action, because you’re just get so lost and dissipate so quickly. You’re already integrating so much information about writing, and graphics and everything. Just pick one, one goal.
What kind of Web site are you building? There is often no particular reason to buy special non-profit theme, a restaurant theme. I did a lot of research and I found that it was funny how lots of theme marketers, especially on Theme Forest, which is a free for all, anyone can sell their theme of at least a minimum quality that they obviously are finding that… someone comes in those things, “We want a non-profit. We want a restaurant theme or a hotel theme.” A lot of the time there’s really nothing about that theme that’s appropriate necessary for that particular thing.
This is an example of one that really wasn’t. It was said it’s non-profit themed. The marketing here is for “Make a difference, Protect the Rainforest, Save our planet,” and there is a beautiful red panda, orangutan and so on. If you actually break down, they’re not selling you these images. If you actually break down what they’re selling you, they’re selling you a shell where you can pick images that you have to provide. If you think about it, if you want to promote business, you probably would want a photographer or have some photography skills. You’ve got to crop it the right size, so there is a bunch of steps. Three little boxes down here and some placeholders. There’s really nothing about this that is specifically about that. That’s a bit better, a little hype.
Male: You mentioned Theme Forest, could you talk about the support of Theme Forest?
Chris: What I’ve noticed about that, is each one of those companies has their own support. I think they have a forum that’s may be associated with Theme Forest. Theme Forest will give them a support forum, I think. Who knows, it’s up to them. I think they don’t have a lot of motivation to spend a lot of time on support. I think almost nobody does.
One of the companies I’m going to recommend that I’m really looking at a lot now is PageLines. They have a premium program now, where you pay $20 a month to be part of their program. That becomes a viable business model. They could have some support and live chat and things.
Except if it inspires you, gives you ideas for your Web site. Here’s another example. Here there is nothing specific about that’s for biking, it’s a biking theme. Unless it inspires you and gives you ideas, but remember you’re not going to get these images when you buy the theme. There were some exceptions actually, that was really interesting, I didn’t expect to see that.
This is an example, there’s a recipes theme on there. It actually had a lot of really cool stuff for having a recipe Web site. When you installed the theme, it automatically created special post type for recipes, rating system. All this cool stuff out of the box that really made sense for a recipe site. It was good, so there is actually a potential to do that for people. Where it would really make sense is where you really are building some functionality that made sense, for a hotel, or for a recipe site.
How important is mobile friendliness? An increasing number of people are on mobile, but at this point it’s really not a major consideration to me. It’s a minor consideration at this point, but it’s going to grow, it’s going to keep growing.
Female: Most of the WordPress sites look pretty good on the phone.
Chris: And iPhone is designed to look pretty good with a regular Web site.
Female: We just had a discussion about this at class the other day.
Chris: It’s growing, it’s responsive, and it’s a good thing. They’re good directions that were going into that. A few years from now when it really matters more, we will be there… what is your technical level? How much work do you want to do? There are trade-offs between out of the box ease and flexibility. If you say, “I want to be the dedicated Web person for my company, and spend several hours a week for the next five years,” maybe get something like PageLines or Headway builder type of theme, where you could become an expert at that system, you become the expert for the company. You could be very effective. You’re just like, “We just want to get it up now.” Have it plug and play, then you might have a different set for criteria for selecting your theme.
I’m a really, really huge stickler for readability. I have a pet peeve about a lot of designers that they think that six point, light gray type on a lighter gray background is cool, for some reason.
Female: Only the wallpaper.
Chris: Maybe it’s because they’re like, old people can’t read it. That’s why it’s cool. If they’re yelling, I don’t know why. I really believe very strongly that the point of a Web site, a lot of it, is for people to be able to read what you have to say, and say it clearly. Not only that, but it’s good not to have tons and tons of words, but have a decent number of well-selected words that really stand out. Here’s a great example on zenhabits.com, if you know that site.
Zen Habits has an incredible typography, and then here’s one of the million bad examples. This is, the phone numbers for the site and its gray on gray, it’s about nine point, eight point type. You want to look for good size and good contrast. A lot of times what I end up doing with that, though, is actually, almost everything else I like. For instance, about PageLines, I just bump up, I use a little bit of code to just bump the type size a little bit. A lot of times I’ll turn dark gray text into black text.
This is part of my rant again, a little bit, designers are visual, they’re not always big word people. They often care more about a site’s immediate visual appeal. I’ve just seen that with certain designers I worked with in the past. None of you guys actually, by the way, but this one Swedish designer, she minimized, everything has to look like everything is a field of snow. It’s like, you can’t say anything. I just think it’s really important to make things easier to read.
I’m going to zoom a little bit here. What are the parts of WordPress out of the box? You should know that if you don’t, all of the things in WordPress have sidebars. Almost every WordPress theme has the ability to have a sidebar which is usually on the right, but it could be on the left. The sidebar is a place where you can stick widgets. The widgets, you can put blobs of text in there or other types of things. That’s one of the things that you can do to control the layout of your site.
Also now, all of the good themes should have custom menus, so you can drag and drop to create custom menus, and put whatever you want on your menu. Including all of them really should, anything I would recommend would have a drop down menu, so that if you had multiple levels on your menus and they did not fit at the top, then they would automatically do a drop down effect.
Also there is millions of free plugins. Some paid plugins I recommend that also you don’t have to have in your theme. If you say “Really need a great contact form, and this one theme that we’re picking has a contact form built in.” Don’t worry about that, because there is no reason to have the theme to have a contact form built in, because there are really great contact forms out there.
Do your search. Look online, look in reputable theme companies. The ones I recommend, I really like PageLines, I like the feel of PageLines a lot, their aesthetic and their ethics. Themeify, themeify.me, I really, really like their designs and their layouts and everything. Rocket Themes is good. Elegant Themes is good, Woo Themes… you can get a link to this if you want. We’ll put it up on Meet Up. There are other ones too. Find companies that feel like they are solid. Find companies that feel like they really have a good strong ethic, even if they’re a little more expensive. Again, you’re paying tens of thousands of dollars worth of work, and you’re paying like 50, 60, 70 bucks for it.
Theme Forest, proceed with care. For individual developers, there’s some great stuff, but it varies a lot. If you do a lot of search on Theme Forest, you’ll find some really cool stuff now that people are doing, some very interesting stuff. Again, the quality, you just don’t know, you really don’t know. Smashing Magazine is a great way to find free theme. If you’re looking for free themes, Google, “Best free themes smashing magazine.” They will have a very good selection.
Behind the hood, there is all this stuff that, when you buy the theme it may look really great, but it doesn’t have… try to find sites with good documentation. Look on the theme company’s site and see do they emphasize that. Is support emphasized? Because it looked like it would be easy to get support and feedback.
Look for good options and setup. This is a screenshot from PageLines. Again, I just love the way they’re doing their stuff. The new WordPress santacruz.com Web site that we’re launching tonight, has been done in PageLines, it’s very nice.
Female: The whole thing is done on PageLines?
Chris: PageLines, yeah. I may do some more work on it, but I really like PageLines. PageLines is designed as a theme framework. Look for skins and variations. A lot of times you might find that a theme, like the Themeify one, they do a great a job of that. They’ll have one look for a theme, and then within that same theme, you might have six different color schemes with different skins. They do a great job actually making all of those skins be good color selections.
Go back to your piece of paper and you say, “This is the character I wanted for my theme. This is what I wanted to say. This was my message to my people.” That can guide you, and that could guide you more than just like “This looks cool and it has an amazing slideshow.” They chose good stock photography for marketing theme. “Yeah, this typography, this layout, these colors, this documentation, these layout options, would work well with the types of things I’m trying to communicate.”
Some times you might look for niche features, like I was saying before, like the restaurant theme. Look for readability. Throughout a couple of little things for specific use cases, if you’re doing a social media site, BuddyPress is really cool. WPMU Dev is a company that sells plugins and themes that work with BuddyPress, and it’s a very, very smart looking company. For online marketing, I recommend Optimize Press. We’re going to be doing a lot of work in Optimized Press over the next coming months actually. It makes it easier to make landing pages, sales pages, integrate all the email marketing and sales and things into that.
Melody: Optimized Press is not like a Constant Contact?
Chris: No, Optimized Press is online marketing theme forward press. There’s a way of repeated patterns that you have in online marketing that are extra in terms of integrating e-mail signups, video, splash page areas, calls to actions and things, it integrates a lot of that stuff. For e-commerce Cart66, WooCommerce and Shopp are interesting. WooCommerce is free open source… if you have a directory of services, look for App Themes.
Now the fun begins. As always with your site, and your visitors and goals in mind, I’ll zoom through this. This is basically, okay, great now, this is the message for people. Great, now you’ve got your theme, guess what, now the work begins. I said fun, it’s like, now you get to put the content in skillfully, the images in skillfully, get help if you need it. Set up the theme, install the plugins, and write the pages. Writers always live this, it’s like little line item on the spreadsheet towards the bottom, write content. This huge world of important stuff that really…
Choose and place images. I think that, me included, could do a lot more work working with designers in the actual selection of specific images, photography and art direction for having photography shot, and things to make it work. I’ve seen that work really, really well, when someone really did that well, like going in and doing on-site shots of people in the company or things like that. That was actually the thing that made the site work. In some ways we obsess about, “What theme I should buy?” Get something solid like PageLines, and put money and time into writing, messaging, branding, photography… and video would be good too.
Create or commission a logo. The marketing, if you want more, this goes back to my old Web site, it would probably soon go back to the new Web site, bit.ly/themetoolkit. I’m going to make some worksheets that go along with this a little bit, and then I’ll link to the PDF.
As I mentioned before, I’m launching now WordPress Santa Cruz with Chris. That’s me, with me and then the other Chris, Chris Miller, and the team. The team, there’s seven or eight of us on top of us. We all have different roles, we’ve project management, and account management. Yes! We also have a team of really great people. Being where we are, references, to outsource… to do WordPress, SEO, design and photography, and all the other parts that you need. Thank you.
Melody: Thanks, Chris.